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Housing social diversity beyond mass-production

Part 1 Project 2012
Wiktor Kidziak
Architectural Association UK
This project investigates how industrial manufacturing processes can inform a design strategy to deliver a high quality housing system which mixes a range of types and programmes in a dense urban scenario.

Taking clues from precedents such as Fuller's Dymaxion House and Kurokawa's Capsule Tower, the project seeks to utilize an efficient material strategy to vertically cluster compact prefabricated units. Instead of stacking self-similar one-piece enclosures, the project investigates material assemblies in which several components are configured to form semi-monocoque shells.

Through a series of tests, a folding mechanism was developed for the construction of a one-to-one aluminium prototype. It exposed several technical difficulties yet proved the feasibility of this specific industrial process to manufacture architectural space. When designed at full scale as an urban structure, prefabricated concrete and steel pods are clustered to create sloping circulation cores and spaces for housing. The system allows for different combinatory logics to create varied apartment sizes and unique spaces. Studies were carried out to define constraints for a generative strategy which guaranteed structural viability, access and living qualities such as light and views.

During a visit to Chongquing, one of the fastest growing megacities in China and my laboratory for new architectural and urban typologies, I discovered a city which thrives on difference, accommodating a huge range of different people in a vibrant urban landscape. Through its layering, branching and weaving of strands, the project seeks to create moments of meaningful interaction mixing socially distinct user groups. Generative rule sets were developed to define the way in which residential units cluster to create public spaces, resolve global internal circulation and create an interplay between solid and void that guarantees ventilation and light but also leaves spatial flexibility for future programmatic change.

The project proposes an inventive industrial manufacturing process as a means to create high quality urban housing systems that mix a range of living unit types in an efficient structure while guaranteeing quality for living and future programmatic flexibility.

Wiktor Kidziak


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